Just started a business and wondering which ecommerce marketing strategy will suit your the best? Here’s a list of ecommerce marketing strategy that will help you stay within your budget.
Ah! Here we go again!
Back to the big ol’ question of all time.
“How to promote my ecommerce business online?”
You had an idea. You started off with it. Now what? How do you let people know about your newly launched e-commerce business?
Building an eCommerce store and not promoting it, is like opening a shop and expecting people to come to you after having a dream about it.
Not possible right?
When I talk about eCommerce marketing strategy, it would be wrong to claim that there is one hard and fast rule that must be followed. Because it doesn’t work that way.
Each business is different, and you will have to strategize your marketing as per your business needs.
There is nothing called the ideal ecommerce marketing strategy because someone’s meat can be another person’s poison.
The marketing tactics and algorithms are evolving every day and hence it’s very important for a business to invest in an effective ecommerce online marketing strategy in 2021.
However, among all the obstacles, not everything is in vain.
Despite all the niche-specific tactics and experiments, there are few timeless classics that are proven to work wonders for online businesses and are expected to work in the foreseeable future as well.
So without further delay, let’s begin.
Work on Strategy Planning
As I said, every business is different. So the marketing strategy will differ too. But there are four primary sets of rules that apply to all businesses.
Let me walk you through the key components that will set the base for a successful online marketing strategy for an eCommerce startup.
See where you stand
According to an article published by CB insights, it is said that most startups run out of business because their products are not in demand.
If your product isn’t unique or doesn’t solve a problem, chances are that the customer won’t buy it.
So before launching, it’s important to understand where you stand and build your e-commerce marketing strategy accordingly. Once you understand the trend and the demand for your service, you will know how sustainable your business is.
This will help you then focus on the great products and services that you can offer.
Set your goal
You know what they say, an idea without a goal is just a wish.
In the initial stage of your business, you need to set up your goal as per the way you define success.
Your goals need to be a full-proof built in plan of action. Make sure your goals aren’t too vague.
If you write something like“ Create brand awareness”, “Get new customers”, “Make people stick to my brand” etc etc. these are not really goals but dreams that you wish to come true.
Create goals like “ Promote my products to 10000 people”, “generate X number of leads in the first month”, “ work on Y no of resources to execute a plan”.
Did you see the difference?
The first one is a result of a larger picture, while the second points are target specific and works on short term achievement that will help you achieve success in the larger picture.
Define your target audience
Whether it’s a startup or a multinational business, every sector has a specific set of audience.
So it’s crucial to determine your targeted audience, before you start working on marketing.
Let me put this in a simple way.
You have a small bakery, and you are selling home made cakes and sweets for occasions. Your target audience won’t be diabetic patients right?
The idea here is to promote your service or product in front of an audience, who you know will be needing the service or product you are selling.
The common factors for targeting an audience includes: age, gender, demographics, area of interest, social media activities, purchasing habits etc.
Other than this, before you set up your target audience ask yourself the following questions.
- What are you offering?
- How is this beneficial?
- What advantages do you have over your customers?
- If it’s a B2B audience, is your service helping the business or their audience?
Determine your budget
Oh yes! That’s a big one.
Every business depends on some amount of investment. But how do you decide that amount? Let me help you.
Keep your goals written in front of you and understand how much investment will each plan need. Whether you need to hire employees, buy any software or carry out paid marketing campaigns.
Don’t invest without planning. Use as needed, and you can increase your budget as the business grows.
Choose the right channels to reach your audience
Now that you have a visible plan written in front of you, it’s time to execute. Here are some major ways through which you can promote your products to the right audience.
You know when I say, “content is the king” there is a reason behind it. And I am not talking about just the blogs.
Yes, it is a major contributor but I am also talking about other forms of content including Youtube videos, email marketing, social media and many more.
If one thing I can rest assure you is that Google LOVES content, and if you hit the right spot, it won’t be very difficult for your business to reach out to a wider audience through effective content marketing.
Studies show that 44% of people start their online shopping after researching on Google, and 26% of ecommerce sales comes directly via organic searches.
Along with this, what remains on top is reaching out to the right consumer at the right time.
Lets see how you can implement content marketing in your business.
Take a look at this site. Urban company is a marketplace for home services that provides beauty services, massage therapy, home cleaning, plumbing, painting, etc in India and in certain parts of Asia.
They target both customers and service providers who can either take up any of the above-mentioned services or can list themselves as vendors.
In their blog section, they provide various types of content related to skin and beauty, painting, interior designing, home decor, etc. Their blogs consist of both short and long depth articles. If you want to write the perfect blog for your website, you need to do a lot of research about your audience and the current trends related to your business.
Now moving on to their content structure. Take a look at this article. Along with written content, the blog also shows a video that explains the blog topic in brief.
The trick is not only have they explained the blog in a simpler way, but have also used multiple content formats, and results?
Millions of online visitors every month. Take a look.
Video content is one of the best forms of promotion that there is right now.
If you take a look, Urban company has 598 videos in their Youtube channel.
This not only improves brand awareness but also builds trust among people. If you see these videos are 2-3 min long.
They also create 10 sec ad videos that are crisp, to the point and talk about customer specific needs. Video content enhances brand recall value and helps in better customer retention.
These ads are run over multiple platforms like social media, Youtube and even television. Since Youtube is also a Google product, ranking on youtube can also help in boosting your rank on Google.
If you rank on Youtube, chances are Google will automatically show your results on relevant and related keywords.
Now coming to the base of content marketing. The keywords. The whole process of online marketing works on keywords.
If you analyse keywords for urban companies, Google will suggest 208,747 keyword suggestions. So you can technically write on 208,747 topics.
Of Course that’s not possible to be created within a short span of time. So you choose and prioritize the top searched keyword and work on it.
Now it doesn’t end here. Content marketing is huge and honestly there are ample of other things that you need to do simultaneously. Let me walk you through the rest.
How do I put this in a simple way?
Think of it like this. For example, there are two different sites. Site A and Site B.
Site A mentions site B in one of their blogs. While mentioning the name Site A also provides a link to site B there.
So what happened? Site B got an external reference from Site A that is linking back to its own site.
This is known as backlinking. Backlinks are links from one website to a page on another website.
Google considers backlink as votes for a specific page. So the more backlinks you have, the more authentic your site becomes for Google.
Take this example:
This is an example where Forbes has mentioned Backlinko in their blog. This mention, links back to Backlinko’s site directly.
Being mentioned, tells Google’s search engine that this content is valuable, useful and credible for visitors.
Backlink’s role in Google’s algorithm is nothing new. This technique has been a great way of acquiring Google’s attention and rank in search engines.
However, random backlinks from spammy sites are equally harmful for your site. This can not only drop your rank, but your site can also get banned from Google.
Social media Marketing
With advancement of technology over the years, businesses have become highly dependent on various digital platforms for promoting their products.
Social media being one the largest platform among all.
As per an article published by Entrepreneur it is said that 97% of the fortune 500 companies rely on social media for marketing their products and services.
If 496 of 500 companies are trying out social media, you should too.
And before you tell me that you don’t have a big budget, hold on there…
There are around 3.78 billion social media users around the world, and hence social media can be your ideal spot for outreaching maximum customers. Here’s how.
Take a regular example.
One fine day, you thought of buying furniture. You go to google and type “buy furniture online”.
Then you changed your mind and didn’t buy anything.
After some time, when you log in to your Facebook or Instagram, you see multiple sites showing you ads of furniture from different brands.
How do they do it?
Do they read your mind?
No. They capture your interests and buying patterns and show you results relevant to your choices and interests.
Take a look at this Flipkart’s ad.
Facebook ads and instagram ads hold huge potential for your business. You can rightfully target your customers and get them onboard within a short span of time.
Not only facebook and instagram, twitter and linkedin ads are equally beneficial. They help you raise awareness of your startup, drive people to your website, and attract new followers. It also helps in targeting the similar community that you work in and help you find potential customers for your business.
Take a look at this. Looks familiar?
Whenever you search for a product online, you see similar ads, don’t you?
Here’s an example. Suppose you are searching for shoes online, and I type “buy shoes online”, and related ad results appear on the side.
These are known as Google Ads. This is an effective way of marketing your products and is very easy to implement for platforms like wordpress and shopify.
Studies say Google ad campaigns have resulted in as much as a 200% increase in conversion rate and click-through rate (CTR), by retargeting customers based on their interests and purchasing habits.
No one usually thinks of using this ecommerce marketing strategy.
Ever since Siri and Alexa came into the picture, we have started loving voice searches.
It feels a bit like ordering people around and who doesn’t love that?
Also, isn’t it a lot more convenient?
Imagine you’re trying to make homemade bread and you’re up to your elbows in dough. Are you going to wash that all off so that you can type on your phone? Or are you going to ask, “Siri, what to do if I have added too much water to my dough?”
The latter, we know. We’ve all been there.
And here’s the thing: Since a lot more people are using voice searches now, you have to start optimizing your content for voice searches.
Now, what does that mean? How is your traditional content any different from voice search optimized content?
First, the keywords.
Look at the question that was just directed towards Siri. Would you have typed that 13-word long question had you been searching for it the traditional way?
No, right? We all know the text-search keywords are 1-3 words long and that’s how we search for them- in disjointed phrases.
But to make sure your content is optimized for voice searches, you need to start utilizing long-tail keywords.
Long-tail keywords are way more specific than text search keywords and they also require direct answers. If you manage to make your content as direct as possible, the chances of Google answering the customer’s question with your answer increases.
Mostly, people frame their voice searches as questions, like: “Which are the best Chinese restaurants near me?”
This is why your keywords must ideally start with the question words i.e. How, When, What, Which, Why.
Also, make sure you include filler words. What are filler words? The “the”, “on”, “in”, “of”, “a”, “I” that we normally eliminate during text searches.
Including them in voice search keywords is important because we’re human and these filler words make us sound human. We’re inevitably going to use more than one of these words during our voice searches.
It has been proven that voice searches are made most often when the customer is in a public place and looking for services “near me.” So businesses that need to appear when customers search for local listings, should totally cash in on this opportunity.
User-Generated Content and Influencers
Let’s clarify from the start- User-Generated Content (UGC) and content generated from sponsorships are different.
The first one’s completely free. The second one is not.
Remember this campaign?
LAY’S’ #SmileDekeDekho campaign was influencer-based marketing at its best.
LAY’S printed the smiles of various influencers on different packets. Then these influencers were encouraged to urge their followers to take a selfie with those packets and then send it back to them.
What would each party gain from this campaign?
- The followers could be featured on their favorite influencer’s massively famous Instagram page.
- The influencers would get a huge boost to their profile outreach after getting their faces printed on millions of packets. More popularity, more followers- both.
- LAY’S is clearly the biggest winner here. Even during the 12th week of their campaign, they still managed to get 8-10 posts daily.
It was a massive campaign with around 750 influencers but it was worth every penny.
As Ashutosh Munshi, Executive Vice President and Head of Brand Practice, Edelman India, said, “A brand today doesn’t belong to a company. It is owned by the community, and by the consumer. To win attention requires fresh ways of conveying a brand story through unexpected means that consider all the senses and lean heavily into human intuition.”
Brilliant deduction there.
The brand belongs to the people- the consumer base. So you’ve got to get THEM involved in your marketing. Not only as the targets but also as the participants.
But how on earth will you pay for a massive campaign like that?
Here’s the thing- you don’t need to.
You don’t have to approach big-name influencers like the Kardashians to endorse your brand. Micro-influencers have a way more focused and impressionable audience base.
Think about it. Can you afford the lip tint that Kylie Jenner uses? No, right? But you can very well afford the lip tint that your fashionable ex-classmate-turned-influencer with 45k followers can afford.
And you don’t always have to pay influencers for their reviews. Oftentimes sending them a free gift-hamper works wonders. They’re benefitting from you too, see? Videos of them reviewing your products gets them more views, likes, and followers as well. It’s a perfect give-and-take policy.
This was the paid option.
Now let’s come to the free option- User Generated Content or UGC.
Check out the YouTube channel of GoPro.
It’s filled with videos shot by the users of GoPro. Their website too is chock-full of videos of GoPro users going on badass adventures.
No, GoPro did not pay them to shoot these videos. The customers themselves just wanted to shoot them and GoPro simply used these to show off the quality of their product.
What can be a more credible way to market your product?
You’re literally NOT marketing it. Your customers love your product so much they’re doing it for you.
GoPro’s marketing budget is tiny! You know why? Because all their marketing team has to do is review the videos under the #GoPro hashtag, choose the best ones and post them to their official website or YouTube channel.
But before GoPro did this successfully, literally no other company had tried to get their entire marketing done through UGC.
And think about it- had GoPro tried to actually pay people to shoot these videos, they would have never managed to achieve even 5% of the variety that the videos have now. Not to mention they’d be broke.
So, how do you make UGCs work for you?
Simple. If you have a restaurant, make people tag your restaurant when they’re food-blogging and then repost them on your own website or social media account.
People may doubt sponsorships because a reviewer who is getting paid by you is less likely to be brutally honest about your products. But there’s no such suspicion with UGC.
It’s a great marketing tactic if you can get really creative with it and tap into human emotions. Bet you didn’t think about this ecommerce marketing strategy before, did you?
Optimized Website Loading Speed
Sorry, the joke was right there. I had to go there.
Poor Internet Explorer has been the butt of jokes for years. You know why.
So, you also know why you should make sure that you don’t become the next Internet Explorer.
Your page shouldn’t take light years to load. Because if it does, customers will hightail it out of your site to your competitor’s site in the blink of an eye.
We’re not making this up. A Google study shows a 90% increase in bounce rate when load speed goes from 1 to 5 seconds. With every passing second, you lose countless customers.
The worst part is that your website is the slowest when the customer load is the highest. The more people try to view your site, the slower it loads.
So the question arises: How do I decrease the loading time of my e-commerce site?
Optimize your mobile site speed.
Lockdown means lounging on your couch, twiddling away on your mobile, and buying stuff that you don’t need.
Imagine how annoying it would be if that mobile e-commerce (or m-commerce sites) refused to load.
This is why you need PageSpeed Insights.
This is a Google Labs tool that you can use to find out what is making your website lag. The perk of this particular tool is that it analyses your mobile website performance differently from your desktop website performance.
You can also visit your competitor’s sites to figure out what is not working for them so that you can make it work for you.
Don’t splurge on pop-ups.
Pop-ups slow down your page. That’s the first thing you’ve got to know.
But they’re eye-catching, right? Site visitors are more likely to click on the pop-ups sprung at them, right?
Well, partially. You are right. But you’re also kinda wrong.
Customers often visit a site with a specific item in mind that they’re intending to buy. Surprising them with random pop-ups of products that they never wanted, doesn’t help.
And you’re right. They’re more likely to click on them, but they’re also as likely to click on them accidentally. Don’t you hate being needlessly redirected when all you needed was that one light bulb?
We’re not telling you to #CancelPopUps. Just use them with restraint WHEN you need them. Don’t have random product pop-ups that impede the browsing experience of your customers.
How would you feel if you went to a store to buy a single pair of jogging shorts and a salesman kept annoying you by asking, “Sir, do you want a shirt? Pants? Boxers? Briefs?”
Don’t be that guy. Also, to reiterate the first sentence- they literally slow your website down.
Compress your images. Reduce your images.
Images take up 50-75% of your webpage’s weight. If you have higher quality images, that just increases that percentage.
But high quality does not have to mean high file size.
Plenty of sites like TinyJPG or TinyPNG will let you compress your images while simultaneously keeping the quality intact.
The less is more approach really works if you are trying to maximize your page speed. Each image you use creates a new HTTP request. This isn’t good news for your loading speed.
Trim it. Just a bit. It’ll help you streamline the speed of your page.
And obviously, listen to what PageSpeed Insights has to say about your site. If there’s something wrong, they’ll know.
Email and SMS marketing
Yeah, yeah, we know what you’re thinking.
“Emails? Really? The oldest trick in the book? The one that has not worked since 2010?”
Hold on, there. Allow us to change your mind about our good old friend- the email.
You’re afraid of marketing through emails because you think you’ll end up in the spam folder.
What if we told you that you can avoid that trap?
Build your own subscribers’ list.
Don’t buy or rent lists out of sites that provide them. You have no idea how valid those email addresses are or if those users have stopped using them. Grow your own list and regularly update and verify that to make sure you’re not firing blanks.
What if your rented/bought list of emails has a high bounce rate? After all, the list-seller has no reason to have your best interests in mind. You’ve got to watch out for yourself. Remember, in some countries spamming is illegal and you might have to pay a hefty fine for it.
Ask for consent
Don’t automatically assume a random visitor to your site wants to get spammed with emails. Make your proposition very clear. If you promise to send them newsletters twice a month, don’t send them promotional emails twice a week.
Want to send other kinds of content? Let your subscriber choose if they want to receive it. Don’t just assume it’s a yes.
Don’t hold your subscribers hostage.
This is a really bad look, especially if you’re a start-up. Don’t make it needlessly complicated to unsubscribe from your email chain because that will not convince your subscriber to buy your product. It’s just going to put them off your website forever.
A subscriber might even return at a later point if they leave with a good parting impression. If you burn your bridges by not letting them leave, you’re going to lose customers and earn a terrible reputation.
You must be thinking- why bother with all this emailing fuss then?
Because email marketing does work. It might not be the flashiest or quickest option but it is a very dependable one if you get it right. If you manage to craft interesting and not clickbait-y emails, you can get people to sign-up for your services.
This is the BEST ecommerce marketing strategy for startups. Why? Low cost and very high ROI.
As for SMS marketing: hear us out.
There’s no spam folder here. And not many people know how to opt-out of bulk SMS lists. Does this pique your interest a bit?
SMS marketing can also work wonders if you’re selling something that people need quite frequently.
What did we need very frequently in this pandemic? Masks.
O2 Pro did nothing, absolutely nothing, but send out SMSs stating their discount rate and their website link.
How did this work out with so many mask companies competing against them? Because they were the only ones sending out their sale alerts continuously and regularly.
Even if you didn’t want a mask when the SMS arrived, you would possibly want one in a month or two. And since they never stopped texting you- they would be right at the top of your SMS folder.
The age group of the target audience is also crucial when it comes to SMS marketing. Yeah, maybe the <40 age group is not going to bother with their SMS folder but the >40 age group, especially the more elderly ones, does use SMS as a mode of communication.
So if you have a product that you want to sell to them, SMS marketing is the right choice for you.
Beyond all this, just apply your regular business skills! Sales, coupons, free trials are the usual crowd-pullers no matter which platform you’re selling your product on.
E-commerce is the new cool kid on the block and we all want to get along with him. But ultimately, all you need to do is tweak your traditional techniques and learn a few shiny new tricks.
Hope these 10 ecommerce marketing strategy will help you boost your start-up.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!
Frequently Asked Questions
Digital marketing basically means reaching out to your customers through the internet. Since the boom of the ecommerce market, digital marketing has become essential. You can also reach out to a larger audience at a lower cost with digital ecommerce marketing. For example, email marketing is great for startups that don’t have a huge marketing budget. Digital marketing also allows you to target specific groups of customers.
Digital marketing happens through a variety of channels. Search Engine Optimization is one of the primary channels because you need your website to show up in the SERP. Besides this, there’s also Pay Per Click marketing, social media marketing and email marketing.
Your ecommerce marketing strategy will completely depend on your budget and the audience you are targeting. If your audience base is young, social media marketing is the way to go. However, if you are targeting professionals, you might want to stick to email marketing. Email marketing is generally cheaper and has a high ROI so it is the best option for a startup.
You cannot start selling anything without having an idea of HOW you are going to sell it. Or who you are going to sell it to. Or how much do you plan to spend on selling it. If your marketing cost goes over your revenue, you will be running at a loss. You first need to figure out how much your customer acquisition cost is going to be. And this includes your marketing budget.
Yes, there are actually some great ways you can market your site for free. As I said before, email marketing is relatively cheaper. And unless you cross the 2000 subscriber mark, it is free. Improving your SEO also doesn’t always require money. There are plenty of great free Google tools that you can choose from to boost your SEO. Social media marketing can also sometimes be free if you are just creating interesting content that makes people want to subscribe. A lot of small businesses use Instagram reels instead of paying for Instagram ads.